Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cookie Cutter Builds

Cookie cutter builds have always been a part of World of Warcraft. Recently Ghostcrawler discussed some issues players were concerned with. Quoted below is a little bit about these builds along with some min/max discussion.

Even many of the so called cookie cutter builds today are honest about those talents that are a toss up. Picking talent A over talent B may be a theoretical dps benefit in the sims or even for the author of the cookie cutter build, but that doesn't mean it will work for you. I have deviated from these sacred builds often on my own characters because I found that I don't rely on certain abilities or mechanics as much as the build assumes I should. Now maybe my dps (healing, etc.) would improve if I could manage to do that, but in the interim using a build that is bad for me just because it's the anointed one doesn't make sense. A- dps with the "bad" build is superior to C+ dps with the "good" build.

If it's a talent that provides a 10% dps increase or offers an ability you'll use constantly, fine. It's hard to argue that won't benefit most players. But when I see players obsess over talents that provide a theoretical 1% dps increase that is vastly overshadowed by the noise of their own performance, I shake my head a bit. Want to see what I mean? Compare a parse of yours on the same boss from week to week. You'll probably see a dps variance of 5-10% or more. That's the role of your skill, latency, bad luck, lacking the perfect raid comp or whatever else. Worrying about that 1% dps talent was a rounding error. Let's not forget that what may be 1% on one boss probably is not on another.
 This sparked a thread on the ZAM forums.

With the new 41 point talent builds we are going to have to make sure we place points carefully. This doesn't allow us to go as deep into other trees as we currently can. With being forced to spend 31 points in our primary tree we can only go 2 tiers deep into any of the remaining trees. Ultimately there are going to be builds that trump all the others in dps but they also involve the best gear that a player could possibly obtain and assuming all factors fall right into place. Now we all know this is never what happens.

I have to start to agree with Ghostcrawler on the bit about using a build you are comfortable with that might be suboptimal as opposed to the cookie cutter build you aren't comfortable with. This is where these last 10 points are going to play a big role.

For example, if you are using a beast mastery build. Your last 10 points will probably go into; Efficiency, Improved Tracking, and Improved Serpent Sting. If you are having issues keeping up serpent sting, or using the haste bonuses to your advantage you might want to stick with whats going to be strong for your build, that is, your pet. You might choose to put your points into Sic 'em and Go for the Throat. This will allow you to get the most out of your pet with out hindering your dps all that much.

So while there will always be a build that is technically "the best," it might not always be the best to follow it. Play to your strengths and when you feel you have learned more and are performing better you can always try to move up to those top end builds.

Reading guides and forums aren't going to always teach you how to become the best player you can be, you have to practice. If you are struggling you need to figure out whats going on. If you use the spreadsheets, which you should, then you can compare where you are to where you could be. Go the the practice dummys and work on your rotations or priorities or whatever system you use. Figure out what works best for you and practice it until it comes naturally and hopefully you will see some improvement on your performance in raids.

In the next article I will be discussing how just because you are trying to min/max there is always going to be a reason why a raid wipes on a boss, and how it's rarely because someone else didn't min/max their character.